Luis Scola soaks in his first visit to the track, still unsure what’ll happen in free agency

While working out at the track Friday, it was great to run into a familiar face. Pacers forward Luis Scola was hanging out with Ed Carpenter and his Carpenter Fisher Hartman team on what was a perfect Carb Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (You can’t miss the 6-foot-9 Argentinean amongst short race car drivers.)

Scola smiled, said hello as I greeted him in Carpenter’s pit while the drivers were on the track for their final hour of practice time before Sunday’s race.

“Don’t ask me about cars,” he joked. “I don’t know anything!”

Luis Scola (left), Ryan Carr (right) hang out in Ed Carpenter's pit during Carb Day.

Luis Scola (left), Ryan Carr (right) hang out in Ed Carpenter’s pit during Carb Day.

Enjoying and exploring was the theme of the day for Scola, who was traded to the Pacers during Brickyard 400 weekend two summers ago. One of the first thing he said at that time was, “I’m gonna go see the Indy 500.”

Last year, however, the Pacers were battling the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals so his priority was completely on basketball. (He even had tickets secured for last year, just in case. His wife wisely passed on taking four kids to the race by herself.)

Since the Pacers are out of it, several players plan to attend this year’s race which will go green at 12:17 p.m. ET. His teammate, Paul George, will be arriving to the Speedway in style — an IU Health helicopter with a Riley Hospital patient as he delivers the green flag.

“It’ll be perfect,” Scola said, that he was able to get his first taste of the action Friday up close and personal. Come Sunday, he’ll have a better feel for the track, the cars, and how things operate. Scola is bringing his wife and his four kids with him.

“I have to bring my kids,” he said with a grin. “They’ll kill me if I don’t bring them. They’ve been talking about it for these two years.”

Scola was friendly with the crowd as he enjoyed his first visit to IMS.

Scola was friendly with the crowd as he enjoyed his first visit to IMS.

Tiago, a 9-year-old who’ll wrap up the third grade next week, is the most excited “because the kids in school talk about it a lot,” dad said.

Tiago is active during Pacers home games, rebounding before the game and hanging out with his father in the locker room afterwards.

Scola spent about an hour in Carpenter’s pit on Friday, then went back to the garage in Gasoline Alley for more education. He was joined by Ryan Carr, who is a close friend of Carpenter, a Butler University graduate. Carr, the Pacers Director of Scouting, was able to slip out of the office and from doing evaluations for a little bit to enjoy the beautiful day and support this friend.

Scola was fascinated by his first experience, everything from the cars, tires, machines, tools, engineers, and such.

“The chance to be so close is very special,” Scola said, in awe of the place. “That’s what amazes me the most. And the amount of people. This is not even the race.

“It’s huge, and I knew it was big, but it’s big big!”

Scola Talks Shop

As I wrote earlier this week, I’ve been told Scola has been a daily visitor to Bankers Life Fieldhouse and worked harder than anyone this offseason.

Finally able to address the topic with him, Scola said he is doing many of the similar things they’d be doing this time of year if they were still playing — though longer and with more intensity. He’s working with strength coach Shawn Windle in the weight room and the coaching staff on the court.

“I think you need to try to get better until the very last day you play basketball because that’s the essence of the sport,” he said. “When you approach the training the right way then good things happen.”

The NBA season lasts until the end of June so he’s technically still under contract with the Pacers. While his kids finish up school, working out at the team facility is the smart option due to top-level coaches, training staff, and equipment.

“This team in particular is one of the tops so there’s no better place to work out than here,” he added.

Soon, he’ll go home to Argentina and later join the National Team for play this summer to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

He’ll have a decision to make in July, though. His contract, which paid him almost $5 million last season, is up so he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

Team President Larry Bird and head coach Frank Vogel have both made it clear that they want their backup power forward to remain in Indianapolis. Vogel stressed how he fits their culture perfectly, and is a great teammate, a great guy to have around — not to mention he’s still very effective in the twilight of his career.

“We got so much money to spend. Some guys told me they didn’t care what they got,” Bird said in April at his year-end press conference. “They want to get paid but they want to be here, too. That makes you feel good.”

Scola doesn’t seem to worried about his decision just yet.

“We’ll see what July brings because I really don’t know,” he shared. “Larry told me he wants me back and I told him that I want to be back. In between those two things, [there’s] this huge gap that we got to fill. We’ll see how it goes. I’m excited. I’m not thinking too much. Maybe when the date gets closer I’ll think a little bit more.”

One Response to Luis Scola soaks in his first visit to the track, still unsure what’ll happen in free agency
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